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Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

242             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
When we reached the garden, Moussa insisted on satisfying any lingering doubts in my mind—although I had none but rather felt him to be patently honest—by divesting himself of his brown outer robe and white under robe, leaving himself standing in nothing else than a shirt and a pair of socks I The object of this unexpected exhibition was to prove that he did not carry snakes concealed in the folds of his robes or, maybe, twined around his legs! I assured him at once that the proof was ample, and he re-clothed himself.
Moussa went slovty over to a debris-strewn area of the garden, carrying a three-feet-long strong palm-suck in his right hand; he then suddenly stopped, and struck the stones a tew gentle blows. At the same time he made a clucking noise with his tongue, and broke into a high-pitched unbroken recital of certain phrases of the Quran^ mingled with magical incantations and adjurations to a scorpion to come forth.
"There is a scorpion under this stone," he explained, pointing to a rugged piece of rock. "I have smelled it!"
No scorpions emerged, so Moussa recommenced his adjurations and spells, this time in a stronger voice which was full of the tone of emphatic command. He was successful, for a large scorpion yielded to his exhortations and immediately crawled out from under the stone and then stopped. Moussa bent down and picked it up with his unprotected fingers. He brought it close to me and held it aloft in the air that I might examine it carefully. It was a yellowish-green creature, about three inches long. The sting—that dangerous, yet tiny weapon, stuck on to the end of its tail—was perfect and undestroyed. In the minute yellow bladder attached to it was enough poison, perhaps, to give anyone a painful death. And although the dreadful sting was raised threateningly in the air, the scorpion never once thrust it into Moussa's flesh.
"Are you satisfied?" asked the charmer. "You see, it is very big but does not bite me. No scorpion may bite me, for I have forbidden it to do so!"
He placed it on the back of his left hand.
The |>oisonous insect moved its sting several times, as by natural instinct, to attack him, but each time stopped dead short when the point was within a quarter of an inch of its captor's skin.